By Lori Egan, Fort Benning BayonetMay 10, 2009
FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Only 24 of the 49 teams that started the 26th annual Lt. Gen. David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition Friday remained in the running Sunday when the helocast and swim portion began at Hurley Hill.
Team 21, Sgt. 1st Class Blake Simms and Sgt. 1st Class Chad Stackpole with the 4th Ranger Training Battalion, was in first place after the orienteering, earning the Leandri Award for Orienteering. They also finished first in Friday's foot march, taking the Rippetoe Award, which is given in honor of Capt. Russell Rippetoe who was killed in Iraq in 2003.
In second place was Team 22, previous winners of the competition, Master Sgt. Daniel Jenkins and Master Sgt. Walter Zajkowski with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and third place were first time competitors Sgt. Jesse Collins and Sgt. Michael Malchow with the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Sunday's events included the water confidence test and canoeing down the Chattahoochee River for nearly nine miles.
The final event of the competition was the buddy run, which ended at Lawson Army Airfield's Freedom Hall, another change from earlier competitions.
"It's good to change it up," said Sgt. 1st Class Corey Hawkins, 5th Ranger Training Battalion. "A lot of these guys have competed before, and the changes keep it interesting. The Best Ranger Competition is three days of hell, and it's a big deal, a sense of accomplishment just to finish it."
The first team to cross the finish line was Team 46, Capt. Samuel Linn and 1st Sgt. Robert Carter with 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.
However, the overall winners were Team 21, Stackpole and Simms, who finished the four-mile run in second place.